Former ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year and batswoman Smriti Mandhana made headlines because of her bold take on the age-old discussion of equal pay for male and female cricketers in India.
During the launch of a new range of shoes, the cricketer spoke about how she is not bothered about the gap in the pay cheques that men and women athletes receive under the central contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“We need to understand that the revenue which we get is through men’s cricket. The day women’s cricket starts getting revenue, I will be the first person to say that we need the same thing. But right now, we can’t say that,” she told reporters.
Mandhana went on to clarify that the entire squad is instead focused on the upcoming T20 World Cup.
“I don’t think any of the teammates are thinking about this gap because the only focus right now is to win matches for India, get the crowd coming in, get the revenue. That is the thing which we are aiming for and if that happens, all other things are going to fall in place,” she said.
“And for that, we need to perform. It is unfair on our part to say that we need same pay, it is not right. So I don’t think I want to comment on that gap,” she added.
The Indian cricket board recently signed central contracts with the top players of the country categorising them under several grades. The top bracket of male cricketers which includes names like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah are slated to earn Rs 7 crore under this annual contract while elite-level female cricketers are only going to make Rs 50 lakh for the same period.
The BCCI is a wealthy organisation. Last season, the board was estimated to have made Rs 2000 crore just from the 45-day long Indian Premier League! An additional Rs 125 crore was estimated to come through gate revenue, merchandise, sponsorships and media revenue during all the other international games throughout the year.
So it is not that they can’t increase the pay of all international players with a central contract by a significant amount and not face a scratch on this surplus, but the point Mandhana made was to make it “fair” for them “to say that we need same pay”.